September 27th 2002

RC5-64 finished - Distributed Amiga goes on

The RC5-64 distributed computing challenge has now been finished. The lucky key was found by an anonymous Japanese participant after 1757 days at 85.5% of the keyspace searched with an unspecified P3/450 machine.

The Amiga RC5 Team ended up ranking 7th out of no less than 12,639 teams, with 2770 members out of 331,252 total participants. We did about 1% of all the work, which is pretty amazing considering 46% of machines in our team were supposedly 'slow' Amigas. Even more amazing is the fact that this number was just a little less than the 52.7% almost five years ago when RC5-56 was concluded.

This shows that Amiga users are as tenacious as much as they love the platform, and still a force to be reckoned with.

The idea behind the RC5 projects is showing that low grade encryption is insufficient and export regulations need to be relaxed in this respect to enhance electronic privacy. You might say the nearly 5 years it took to break the 64 bit key shows the opposite, however it does not: considering it was done with idle CPU time on volunteer machines a dedicated entity or one with enough resources can do it much faster. We could break the 40 bit key still used in some web based security within seconds now, while the US government dragged its feet for a long time before they allowed 128 bit to be exported. Also, any information you want to be secure in a decade from now needs better encryption if we can already crack it like this now. Moore's Law (paraphrased: the doubling of computing performance every 18 months) has in spite of some people (including Moore himself now) saying otherwise not yet been relegated to computing annals and with continueing competition and new advances it doesn't look like it will be for quite some time.

What happens next? Aside from encryption challenges we also take part in searching for Optimal Golomb Rulers, a mathematical problem that has applications in many science and engineering disciplines. Currently OGR-24 and OGR-25 (where we are ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively), with more to come. We also take part in searching for a cancer treatment drug using the LigandFit client (formerly known as THINK) under the United Devices effort.

Some new efforts are scheduled to go live in the (hopefully) near future, including silly/fun ones like the Dolphin project, which does nothing useful apart from counting keystrokes while you use your computer :) This does not take a whole lot of CPU time so is ideally suited to 'slow' Amigas and is meant more as a fun thing than anything else, although the infrastructure being created for this might be used for something more worthwhile in the future. Until then it's yet another opportunity to 'be there' and get some exposure for the Amiga platform. Distributed.Net might continue with RC5-72 besides OGR and some yet to be announced new projects as well.

In the past 5 years we have seen the Amiga landscape change and yet stay the same, with new hope coming and going, but we as a team have stuck with it. It now looks like Amiga may be revitalized once again with new PowerPC machines and a new OS while progress is made on other fronts like emulation too. Whether this will be successful and create a sustainable niche is unclear for now, but we aren't going anywhere and will do our best to add some value, and keep the team spirit going.

Developers are most welcome to inquire about porting projects, we have got the Distributed.Net clients covered but help on others is needed. The hard part is actually being taken seriously and convincing other efforts to let us port the clients in the first place! If we can show how good Amiga programmers can be, nothing should stop us.

If you have any machine that is not yet participating in any such project, you are welcome to join, see the effort homepage below. This does not necessarily have to be an Amiga, it could be emulation or other platforms, the idea is to participate in the Amiga team, even if you said goodbye to the platform a long time ago.

For a full explanation of what the efforts are about, where we are heading, how to participate and everything from statistics to member listings, please visit the team effort homepage at

We are also providing a mailinglist as a forum for the discussion on above topics and the effort in general.


Distributed Amiga/Amiga RC5 Team effort coordinator
Thomas Tavoly - rc5(at)

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